Wednesday, September 6, 2017

REVIEW: 'Mr. Mercedes' - Hodges and Brady Further Isolate the People Around Them in 'The Suicide Hour'

Audience's Mr. Mercedes - Episode 1.05 "The Suicide Hour"

The cat and mouse game between Hodges and Brady escalates. Hodges has an upsetting conversation with Janey's mother. Deborah's drinking almost causes an accident at the Hartsfield home.

"The Suicide Hour" has the feeling of a very climatic episode. It features Hodges and Brady coming face-to-face over a video chat and having an actual conversation with one another. That's a huge detail. But this hour doesn't make any significant progress on the actual investigation of the main story. Hodges isn't any closer to figuring out Brady's true identity at all. He's not about to crack this case. Instead, that moment between them is so climatic because the hour preceding it is full of relationship drama that is exploding. The season has set up these very intimate and personal relationships that both Hodges and Brady have. They've each experienced things that allow them to be happy and understood. But now, their past actions are coming back to hurt them once more. They are each feeling isolated. Part of that is their former actions being discovered and pushing others away. Other parts are just their personalities being too disruptive for anyone to handle at the moment. But that's what allows their eventual conversation to be so meaningful and resonant. It's filling both of their lives with purpose. No matter what else is going on with them they still have this cat-and-mouse game which is escalating even further. They both believe that they know and understand their opponent. To them, that's exciting and makes them feel more alive than anything else currently happening in their lives. So, it's not ultimately a big deal that no progress is made on the case because this conversation is so wrought with tension and uncertainty.

Of course, both Hodges and Brady have always been difficult people to be around. The world so rarely understands and accepts what the two of them are going through. Hodges still wants to be seen by the world around him. He doesn't want to be put out to pasture just because he is now retired. He still wants to be respected after all the years he gave to a pretty successful career. But now, the world sees him mostly as a self-destructive drunk whose loneliness is bound to send him to an early grave. No one wants to take him seriously because they just see him repeating the same patterns that forced his early retirement in the first place. With Brady, he's just seen as weird. He's very good at what he does. He's a responsible young adult caring for his mother. But his mannerisms just rub people the wrong way. People don't know how to interact with him. He has a kindred spirit in Lou who understands the desire to kill people. But no one truly knows what Brady is capable of or how much pleasure he gets out of inflicting pain on others. He closes himself off to the rest of the world. He's followed a pattern of abuse and dark tendencies. Even when he wishes to escape, he can't. He's always been destined to be this way. That's horrifying to learn while also making him a deeply conflicted antagonist to this story.

Hodges has several leads that he is following up on. His friend in the department has been able to get him files about cases where burglars only seemed to move cars around without having access to a key. That's a very promising lead. The show even flashes back to reveal how Brady got the frequency for Olivia's car in the first place. It's such a quick action. But it's an action that would come to define this entire investigation and the feelings that Olivia had before she killed herself. It's the lead that Hodges is now pursuing. And yet, he can't dig too deeply into that because Olivia and Janey's mother is having a good day and is capable of talking to him. That sequence mostly just confirms that everything Hodges has been dealing with regarding the Mercedes killer Olivia was as well. He tormented her. He invaded her world and made her feel responsible for these deaths. She details the same pattern that Hodges and the audience are already aware of. It doesn't reveal anything new. But there's also a key moment where Janey's mother recognizes Hodges as the detective who was cruel to Olivia and allowed even more public humiliation to happen. Again, his joke about the car being returned to her was such a simple action that is proving to have long-reaching consequences. It's enough to destroy his new bond with Janey before it even truly gets started. He wants to be a better man and investigator. But his actions from the past regarding his mishandling of this case are still haunting him. He loses his closest ally as a result. Janey was the only other person who understood. And now, she would rather slam the door in his face.

Meanwhile, Brady is completely surprised by an offer from Robi to become the manager of the store. It's not something anyone was expecting at all because Robi has gone on and on about the death of this industry. He's complained that no one is using electronics stores anymore because they are all going digital. He's forced Brady and Lou to increase their customer service to make sure people keep coming back. And now, Robi is saying that the business is booming again with a second location set to pop up real soon. As such, he needs a new manager to step up and replace him at the current store. It's a surprising offer. One that could be beneficial to Brady if he was an ordinary guy. But he's not. This really isn't a celebration even though he agrees to the interview with corporate. He just returns home and is cooking up his next plan to torment Hodges and his friends. But this is an episode where things don't go according to plan for Brady. He's not able to poison Jerome's dog because Jerome and his friends happen to be returning home at that exact moment and almost catch him in the act. Jerome knows to be suspicious of that as well after everything he has learned from Hodges. But more importantly, Deborah almost burns the house down which is just the latest of false alarms for the local fire department. She is spiraling out and Brady's not around enough to do anything about it. He loves her but doesn't really care enough to help her improve her life in a meaningful way.

All of this is what motivates both Hodges and Brady to have that video conversation with each other. It's them basically revealing themselves. It's still not completely genuine and real. There's still an artificial sense to their conversation. Hodges is drunk and trying to connect things together when he doesn't have enough proof. And Brady is hiding behind a digital face that covers up his identity. But it's still such a powerful sequence between the two leads. They are revealing just how much they truly know about the other. Brady knows all about Hodges' daughter. It's not just the public information either. He knows the exact room she is staying in at her rehab facility. That's creepy and forces action immediately. Meanwhile, Hodges is just trying to get under Brady's skin by making him feel less special. He's not that different from all the other deranged killers out there in the world. He's a loner who was sexual abused by someone close to him. It's a sad story but not a unique one. That strikes a nerve. It's enough to get Hodges to wonder if Brady really is fucking his mother. That's the moment that truly sets Brady off. He is constantly aroused by those images of his mother. She's encouraging them as well. She's always offering help to Brady for sexual release. It's a completely unhealthy relationship. But it's still deeply traumatizing in the moment where Brady forces Deborah away because both have become so used to it. He doesn't want to prove the detective right even though he clearly wants to have sex with his mother. And Deborah wants to be more loving and nurturing. She doesn't want to return to her own alcoholism. But that seems to be the destination nevertheless. It's all so complicated. Things are only continuing to escalate. Hodges teasing Brady like this is bound to have deadly consequences. Hodges just needs to stop him before it gets to that point.

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Suicide Hour" was written by Bryan Goluboff and directed by Jack Bender.
  • Ida isn't letting on that she saw Hodges and Janey together. She's just more cold to him now because he chose to be with someone else after she made her feelings known to him. He's aware that something happened but isn't really pressing it further. He compliments her hair and then goes about his day getting pulled back into the main mystery.
  • Hodges is continually going back-and-forth on whether he should wear the hat that Janey gave him. It's a gift from someone he has gotten very close to very quickly. He's just not sure if it's fitting for his personality. It may help him move into this new world of being a private investigator. But he still just keeps it in the vehicle.
  • As soon as Brady gets to work, Lou is eager to share the news story about the customer who was mean to her getting into a car accident and dying. She even wonders if she had something to do with it. She wonders if she willed it to happen because she really wanted the guy to die for the abuse that he was doing to her.
  • It also seems like Lou is starting to get a little suspicious about everything that has been going on around her lately. She notices that people are getting hurt after they are cruel to her. She is yet to suspect Brady. He even makes a joke about not wanting to get hurt because of her mind. But will she ever suspect that Brady is more than the weird but supportive co-worker of hers?
  • Hodges does call his daughter in rehab as well. He reaches out to her because it's what Janey told him to do. He does it only after he has lost things with Janey as well. It's him still listening to her advice. Of course, his daughter doesn't answer. But perhaps mending that relationship could be an important subplot of this season and his personal character arc.